Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cool Promo Idea for Authors #1: Photo Uploads

This is idea #1 of 10. I'll post a new idea that I'm implementing myself every Friday. By the end of ten weeks both you and I will have a better grasp on low-cost book marketing for self-published authors.

#1: Photo Promo
Last week, as people began receiving their copies of the paperback of
Love Bomb, I noticed a few people were posting pictures of the book fresh out of the box, sitting on their desk, or kitchen counter... People liked to send a little shoutout my way, to show support.

I loved the photos! So I started sending thank-you photos in response (uploading to Facebook, then tagging photo with fan's name), with a hook: I promised to snap a photo immediately after seeing their post. I then turned on all my Twitter and Facebook alerts, so I could be alerted at any time. Literally.

That was me around 4:00pm, at the gym. This is me sneaking ice cream when no one is looking (breaking the diet):

...which was sent in response to:

I've begun including a note in the paperbacks I ship from home (sold directly through my website) requesting a photo if the person is so inclined. I mention that it helps if the person tags me or the book in the photo, which will automatically bring it to my attention and to my Facebook Fans' attention.

The Big Question is always: "Okay, that's cool, but what is the value of that promotion?"

Answer: there are two great benefits to this promotion.
1. First, I get to interact with my fans directly...

It's fun to interact with people who are genuinely excited to buy my book. It means a lot to me. These are people who can be called "fans," and having fans is fun.

It reminds me of all the agents and publishers and studio people who ultimately passed on the book, because "there's no audience for it." I always knew they were wrong, and every supportive picture is proof. I love these pics, and they stand as a testament to the audience for my book.

2. Second, the dollars-and-cents value...

In the digital era, the distance between author and reader is rapidly moving toward zero, and authors who accept and embrace that will have an quantitative advantage. Everyone who posts a picture with my book is vouching for it to all of their friends. That's word-of-mouth that you can't buy.

Social media is not a tool to push marketing onto people, it's a tool to connect via give-and-take.
If your audience feels like you're a participant and not a marketer, they'll hang with you. That will translate to income, if you never take it for granted.
The most recent thank-you pic was taken in the Post Office, just before I was berated for taking photos in the Post Office. I was told "you can't take photos in public building anymore," because "9/11 changed that," and if I wasn't careful, the government would use "face-scanning technology" to track me down.

I'll save my rant on this wildly incorrect series of bizarre urban legends for another time, but who wouldn't want to send me a pic just to see what kind of weird, compromised position they can catch me in??

Interact with your audience. Without them, your tree is falling in the forest with no one around to hear it, not making a sound... or some other tortured analogy... :)


UPDATE (3/4/2012): Reader Mike in Annapolis, MD uploaded a great pic of his paperback around 6:00pm Sunday. I got the text alert and happened to be shaving:

Two minutes earlier and he would've gotten a really interesting thank-u photo! Well played, Mike.

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